All posts tagged: coming of age

Inspired by a time of isolation & distance from her family, prolific and award-winning author Sebnem Isiguzel pens a story of about coming of age during a violent political unrest in THE GIRL IN THE TREE

By Leslie Lindsay  A young woman climbs the tallest tree in Instanbul’s centuries-old Gulahane Park, determined to live out the rest of her days there, what follows is her story.  ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Şebnem İşigüzel is a prolific and much-lauded writer in her native Turkey, and with publication of THE GIRL IN THE TREE (Amazon, April 17 2020), American readers will discover a fresh, memorable, and extraordinary voice in contemporary literature. Amnesty International’s website describes the Gezi Park protests this way: “On 30 May 2013, police cleared Gezi Park in central Istanbul of a small group of protestors opposed to its destruction. The denial of their right to protest and the violence used by the police touched a nerve and a wave of anti-government demonstrations swept across Turkey.”  What really happened in Gezi in 2013? In Şebnem İşigüzel’s THE GIRL IN THE TREEthe author gives voice to that world in a powerful debut about a girl’s coming of age amid violent unrest and her unexpected escape. Perched in an abandoned stork’s nest in a sanctuary …

National Book Award-winning and NYT bestselling author Jacqueline Woodson’s RED AT THE BONE, about family, history, ambition, and a teen pregnancy

By Leslie Lindsay  Beneath the trouble, lies a very powerful and poignant tale about race and class, ambition, and more. RED AT THE BONE is destined to become a classic.  ~Wednesdays with Writers: SPOTLIGHT!~ The thing with ‘classic’ literature is that it is typically polarizing; that is, not everyone is going to love it, there will be themes that make readers squirm, that make us uncomfortable. Classic literature does that. That’s exactly what we’ll find in this bestseller from Jacqueline Woodson, RED AT THE BONE (September 17 2019). Told in a forward-and-backward momentum, Woodson tells the story of two African American families from different social classes who come together because of a teen pregnancy and the child it produces. We begin with a sixteen-year-old’s coming-of-age party in somewhat contemporary (2001) times. Melody is that baby from sixteen years ago, when her mother was an unmarried pregnant teen. Adoring relatives look on, but what we don’t know is the pain each of them has carried. “In less than 200 sparsely filled pages, this book manages to encompass issues of class, …

Erika Swyler talks about her stunning, introspective novel about fathers and daughters, space, time, the oddity–but intelligence–of Florida, plus her favorite planet in A LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS

By Leslie Lindsay  Shivers of wonder, a coming-of-age tale of science-fiction, that is at once introspective and speculative, LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS will transform and mesmerize. From the bestselling author of THE BOOK OF SPECULATION (2015), I was intrigued to dive into Erika Swyler’s second book, LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS (May 7 2019). Delightfully imaginative, and not quite like anything I’ve read before, this is the story of Nedda Pappas, her love of science, space, her father, and so much more. Set in dual-time periods, 1986 and some not-so-distant future, LIGHT FROM OTHER STARS is a literary slant on science fiction. Nedda is 11 years old in 1986, when the Challenger erupts and her beloved astronaut hero, Judy Resick becomes carbon, atoms, dust…she can barely go on. What happened to those astronauts? Are they still ‘out there,’ have they become light and energy and warmth? Nedda loves her father, a laid-off NASA scientist fiercely. But her father is struggling with his own demons, a secret he and Nedda’s mother chose to keep from Nedda. Nedda has a best friend, …

Dave Patterson talks about his sublime coming-of-age, which reads like a memoir, his wavering faith, brotherhood, and so much more in SOON THE LIGHT WILL BE PERFECT

By Leslie Lindsay Two brothers struggle to survive a traumatic summer in rural Vermont is as haunting as poignant.  Buzzfeed included Soon the Light Will be Perfect on their list of 37 Amazing New Books this Spring SOON THE LIGHT WILL BE PERFECT (Hanover Square Press/HarperCollins, April 2 2019) is one of those books that’s just so gorgeous and authentic, you forget you’re reading–and then you question if it’s truly fiction because the author does such a fantastic job of pulling the reader right into the story with tiny observations that feel very accurate. Our unnamed narrator is a 12-year old boy on the cusp of young adulthood. He lives with his family in a poverty-stricken area in Vermont. But the family has done well enough that they are able to move away from the trailer park. His mother is a homemaker and his father works at a weapons manufacturing plant. The date is never specified, but we glean the story is set in the late 1980s or early 1990s because 1) it’s a coming-of-age novel and 2) The Gulf War is just beginning. …

Small towns, changing seasons, finding oneself, going back yet moving forward–Susan Bernhard discovers this & more in her debut WINTER LOON

By Leslie Lindsay  A coming-of-age tale of one young man’s family tragedy about resilience, family secrets, dysfunction, and forging a new path.  WINTER LOON is a beautiful as it is stark. Debut novelist Susan Bernhard turns a graceful hand to an emotionally harrowing and highly dysfunctional family using the weather and the natural world as a backdrop. Through the retrospective lens of Wes Ballot, we follow along as his childhood comes to a dreadful end when his mother is drowned in an icy Minnesota lake. Wes is left with his drifter father, who, for the moment isn’t really around. At 15, Wes can’t be left alone in the family’s abandoned cabin in the woods, and so he is shipped off to live with his maternal grandparents in Montana, who aren’t too thrilled he’s there. Grandparents Ruby and Gip have remained embittered and cold to one another–and the world–what’s worse, Wes is forced to live in his mother’s old bedroom, still decorated as if she were 15 and living at home. But she’s dead and Wes misses his …

Writers on Wednesday: How it’s tough to ‘break the story,’ reconciling the right and left sides of the brain, how swimming in Lake Tahoe is akin to flying, and so much more from ER physician and debut author of GIRL UNDERWATER

By Leslie Lindsay  Recently released in paperback, GIRL UNDERWATER (August 2016, Dutton/RandomHouse) takes readers on a harrowing ‘what-if’ of an major airline crash in the Rocky Mountains. Author Claire Kells writes with viscerally deep hand, and there’s good reason: she’s also a practicing physician. It’s at once a story of survival, but also the after-effects, how one can ‘pick-up’ where she left off, making sense of what happened in order emerge a better person.   The novel follows Avery, a competitive college swimmer, who boards a red-eye flight from the West coast to East, along with two team members and two hundred strangers. When the plane goes down over the Rockies, only Avery, three little boys, and her teammate Colin Shea—whom she has been avoiding since her first day of freshman year—survive. For five days, Avery fights the sub-zero weather, the unforgiving landscape, and creates a make-shift shelter, forages for food, protects those boys and waits for rescue. When that rescue comes, it’s just the beginning. GIRL UNDERWATER looks at what life is like after survival, …

WeekEND Reading: Debut author Bryn Greenwood talks about being a stubborn flat-lander, reading (and writing) about uncomfortable things, what ALL THE UGLY & WONDERFUL THINGS taught her about herself, and how’s it’s totally NOT autobiographical.

By Leslie Lindsay  ALL THE UGLY AND WONDERFUL THINGS is as raw as it is compassionate. A writer I know sometimes says, “I was brave on the page today,” and that’s exactly what I think of Wavonna (Wavy), the main character in this title, as well as the debut author Bryn Greenwood. She was brave on the page and there’s truth to it right here–she’s the daughter of a (mostly reformed) drug dealer just like Wavy, and she has a habit of falling in love with much older men, and perhaps she also not just brave on the page, but “writes what she knows.” This is a brave, insightful read from a very talented new writer and I thoroughly enjoyed the language and rhythm to the prose, however, I will say that this is not a book for everyone. It’s a bit like LOLITA meets…I’m not sure. Be prepared for some rawness and uncomfortable things going on in ALL THE UGLY AND WONDERFUL THINGS. We first meet Wavy (short for Wavonna) when she is just …

Wednesdays with Writers: Laura Lippman Talks about how Memory is a Myth we Create, Being AWFUL at titles, Exploring our Childhoods, & How TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD connects to WILDE LAKE & so much more

By Leslie Lindsay  “The truth is messy, riotous, overrunning everything. You can never know the whole truth of anything. And if you could, you would wish you didn’t.” ~From WILDE LAKE  For twenty years, she was a journalist. She understands space and economy of words. She ‘gets’ motivation and the messiness of people. And it shows. She’s been awarded The Edgar, The Anthony, The Agatha…and so many others. All well-deserved.  And then she churns out WILDE LAKE, a complex coming-of-age story set between the 1960s and present day released May 3rd by William Morrow. Baltimore native Laura Lippman delivers a tale of justice and loyalty, all of which mingle with their friends truth and memory. Lu (Luisa) Brant, younger by eight years is fascinated by her brother, A.J., his friends and his life. She’s the pesky younger sister, but a smart, observant one. As an adult, she gets her “first murder,” thrusting her back to her younger days, when everyone lived in the planned community of Columbia, all divided into succinct villages with a certain …

Wednesdays with Writers: Ultimately a story of hope, debut author and voracious reader J.L. Callison talks about pantsing, flunking college composition,survivalist skills, & more in ROMSON’S LODGE

By Leslie Lindsay A quick read, STRANDED AT ROMSON’S LODGE (Morgan James, May 2016) is the debut of J.L. Callison, a mature author with an inspirational message of love, hope, and redemption.   Kidnapped and flown to a remote lodge in upstate Maine, high school seniors, Jed Romson and Elizabeth Sitton are stranded when their kidnapper crashes on takeoff. What then becomes a tale of who and why, Jed and Lizzie embark on a survivalist adventure reminiscent of Jean Craighead George’s tales for young adults, JULIE OF THE WOLVES and THE FAR SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN. Callison’s chapters are short and crisp and he ought to be applauded for his brevity, break-neck pacing, and element of suspense. At the heart of this Christian inspirational tale is a quaint, wholesome romance. STRANDED AT ROMSON’S LODGE will appeal to idealistic  young readers with an adventuresome spirit. Today, I am honored to welcome J.L. Callison to the blog! Leslie Lindsay : Like every other writer, you’re a voracious reader. And then, the writing bug hit. You mentioned that …

Write On, Wednesday: Eric Lotke Author of MAKING MANNA talks about how moods affect scenes, writing from different POVs, the justice system, & how he doesn’t have literary favorites (exactly)

By Leslie Lindsay Here’s a story that will have you alternatively feeling hopeful and disgusted, wrought with inner angst, and pulling at your skin to help escape the torturous injustice of the penal system.  You’ll fall in the love with the searing honesty, the glittering prose, and the characters themselves. They might remind you a bit of someone you know…maybe even  yourself. MAKING MANNA (2015, Brandyland Books) reads like it could be a memoir, but it’s fiction. But like all good fiction, it’s tied together with a few strands of the truth. Click here to read an excerpt. Today, I am honored to have Eric Lotke chat about his book, MAKING MANNA. Highly recommended you read the last third in a bakery, or at least have some freshly baked bread nearby. Leslie Lindsay: I am always fascinated by what brings a writer to the page. There has to be something that is intriguing to you, keeping you awake at night to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about, writing, and well…the whole process of getting …